VSA Council | November 23, 2104

Hey, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. First things first: I’m officially outgoing Editor-in-Chief. On Wednesday we elected Palak Patel as our new EiC for Spring 2015. However, I will continue liveblogging for the duration of the semester. Also, this week the VSA meeting will be recorded for the external review. Sit tight, we’ll be getting started soon!

7:03 p.m.//Call to order, attendance
Absences: Town Students

7:04 p.m. Consensus Agenda
a. Vassar Greens (Discretionary) $500/$420
b. VCTV (Capital) $700 + cost of security tags/$700
c. Crafts Not Bombs (PreOrg) $100/$200
d. Unbound (Discretionary) $270/$270
e. ASA (Discretionary) $500/$1000
f. Minutes From 11/16/14

Finance: The Greens are collaborating on some event they want to do with Cushing. They have enough money, but the cost of musicians went up so they needed additional funding.

Cushing: The event name is “Affecting change through art.” It’s going to be less of an activist event, but it will be an art space open to everyone in the Villard Room. It’s going to be about reclaiming the Villard Room as a space where we can express ourselves. There will be a ton of food and it’s right before ViCE’s party. We’re still looking for submissions.

Finance: VCTV had a capital request. They want to buy some new items for their club on top of an almost $3,000 fund app that was approved in the spring. We also found out that they don’t have a storage space, which isn’t thrilling to hear. We’re going to collaborate with Activities committee to figure out how to secure these expensive items. Crafts Not Bombs wants to craft and sell their crafts on Etsy and then donate the money to anti-drone causes. Unbound needed money to make their play better. The last one was for ASA. Every year they go to a conference that they’ve always had to pay for out of their budget, but this year it’s more expensive because they don’t have an ASA grad to stay with, so we gave them money so they can have a place to stay.

2017: About Crafts Not Bombs–When we voted them in as a pre-org it was clearly stated that they weren’t going to have a political affiliation.

Activities: Well they can do anything they want with the funds they raise. ¬†They’ll be selling some crafts and giving some away.

7:09 p.m.//Forum with Ariel Nereson, Disciplinary Arts Coordinator

Nereson: I’m working with the College’s Mellon Foundation grant. The grant has four arms. This year we’ve been working with faculty to design courses that specifically include creative arts disciplines. We’re trying to provide for students who are interested in this disciplinary work. We’re also looking to invite artists to campus to do residencies. If you have an idea of a guest artist you’d like to bring to campus, speak up and advocate that to the faculty and see if they can grease the wheels for you. We also have pedagogy workshops for faculty and–this is a new pilot program we’re starting this summer–similar to URSI and Ford, will fill the gap in the summer research programming for students who are interested in arts research. Right now is a great time to insert your vision into what you’d like that programming to look like. Also the trailer outside of the College Center is called the collaboratory. It will move throughout the campus and be in different locations throughout the year. It has a space heater so it will be used during the winter. We’re accepting proposals for that now, if you’re interested in showing and creating work in that space. They’re due December 1. The more we can invite people outside of the arts to be creative beings, the more holistic the campus will be for everyone. I welcome any input you have to help shape what we do with the grant. You can find my email on the website. My office is in the Old Laundry Building, 208a and 209. We have an amazing blog as well. You can follow us on Twitter at Vassar Creative. We do tons of informational stuff. For Cushing’s project–Affecting Change through Art–we can help publicize your event. So we’re also here to support houses and orgs in terms of finances and time and energy. I welcome any requests for help, participation, feedback. Let me know if you need that support for your own projects.

Main: Can you talk about how guest artists for residencies go through faculty? Is there a way students can directly request artists? Because that would be chill.

Nereson: There were a lot of decisions that went through deciding to do that mainly through faculty. Some of that had to do with the fact that they tend to be more successful when they’re involved curricularly. These kinds of residencies tend to be most effective with curricular engagement. That said, I think the majority of the faculty here is interested in hearing what you have to say. If you want to co-propose alongside someone, that’d be lovely. If you have an idea you can also bring that directly to me and I can then reach out to faculty members. It’s more for infrastructure purposes and making sure that process goes as smoothly as possible.

7:17 p.m.//Forum with the Sustainability Committee

Rep: We’re trying to build on years past. First and foremost, we have a new website. We’re hoping for more publicity this year. Most people do know we exist, but with the new website–it’s linked to the main Vassar page now–we have a big up this year. We’re working with the master planning and get in those negotiations and come up with a list of things we want to see in the plans for the next ten years. We’re working on that list–we have a preliminary one, but we’re going to be opening it up for feedback. We’re comprised of student interns, me and a bunch of administrative and faculty reps, plus Allistar Hall. Buildings and Grounds and all of the people who never made it to meetings last year are more present this year, so they really have increased their participation. We have an RCF fund that’s for short term and long term projects that anyone can propose. A drama professor just submitted one. In the theater to work they have to use the floodlights that suck up a ton of energy, so they placed a proposal for energy-efficient lighting. One thing we really want to do is push the fact that we have the fund that literally anyone can submit to. It’s an easy and accessible application. We’re also looking at creating two new bike racks on campus. They’re cool because they’re a bike-repair rack. One of the interns has a wrench, tire pump. We’re looking at having it by the College Center and the TH area. We’ve also improved within CIRC vegan proposals. Any events the committee puts on will be vegan, except for the farmers market. Since that’s a big event we decided to make an exception for that. So we’re officially vegan. We’re in the process of setting up a green office plan. We’re thinking about electricity with lights, computers and energy with commuting. If you reach a certain total, the department will be able to put a certificate of sustainability on their website.

7:24 p.m.//Executive reports

President: Things have been running smoothly. We’re meeting with Cappy and Dean Chenette tomorrow, so if you have anything you want me to bring up, let me know.

Strong: I have something I’d like you to talk to Cappy about. Strong’s ongoing structural problems have returned. I’m curious how much they know about it. I’d be more than happy to reach out to them and give them more information than they’d ever want. We’ve had fire alarms going off every night, we haven’t had hot water for a week. Some of the heating doesn’t work. This has been going on all semester.

Academics: First off, the peer advising dinner happened. Thanks to everyone who came. Hundreds came, I’d say. Next, the syllabus archive is still happening. It was brought up in CCP. The faculty in that committee were receptive to it, but worried about intellectual property rights and things like that. So I talked to the library and they were interested in putting it in the informational repository. Now we just need to get it endorsed by the faculty. In terms of hiring a library director, we’re working on writing a job description. The newsletter has had difficulty making it out this semester, so we’re going to channel our efforts to getting out a full spring edition.

Ops: We modified the [Res Life] amendment. We modified point F under section one, so now the VSA will have to approve contracts by a simple majority vote. In the contract itself, Luis Inoa edited part of it to say that it will depend on the context of the sanction with regards to alcohol and drugs. Before Res Life had the ability to remove someone based on one offense. He also took out some gendered language.

Main: The only thing I have to say is thinking about the precedent it sets with administrative offices with what they can do.

Joss: How many votes do we need to pass it?

Ops: 2/3, which is 16.

Davison: No one’s allowed to change their votes, right? Because we did that once.

President: Nope. No one can back out.

Student Life: Just think about the implication of everyone abstaining and this not passing. We’ve had a series of conversations about what the future looks like given this amendment. If this is not passed, the implications are that house teams will effectively be split into two categories: Student fellows and house officers. Even if you have a lot of mixed feelings about this amendment, abstentions count as nos.

Ops: We need a 2/3 majority of the council. We need 16 votes. A yes would mean that, given talking to your constituents, there’s a consensus in favor of this change. A no would mean there’s opposition to this.

Student Life: If we vote yes, the amendment goes to us and the house officer behavioral agreement will be signed by house officers for next year. This will give them some kind of room privilege, or maintain the room privilege they have and put some responsibility on them. We know how the HSAs feel, we know how BHP feels and their respective houses feel.

Ops: We would also have to have a second vote to approve the agreement.

Joss: We’ve talked this death, but I just wanted to ask anyone who’s considering voting no on this could say what their reason is.

2017: I was planning on abstaining: I recognize that everyone on house team who I’ve talked to is in favor of this. But as someone who has never been on a house team, I wasn’t going to vote no. But also I’m uncomfortable with the precedent it sets, so I decided to abstain because I don’t feel comfortable enough to vote yes. If there’s an issue that students have noticed and the administration has noticed, the way this happened, roughly, is that we said we wanted a year toward working on his, but Res Life said we needed to work with their schedule. They’re going to get very much of what they want if the vote goes the way it seems to be going. It seems to indicate that the admin can lay down a very harsh timeline, set up an ultimatum and get what they want. I also don’t like holding officers to the student fellow requirements because I personally feel some of them are counterproductive. But I do recognize I’m in the minority on that.

Main: 2017 hit most of my points. It sets a precedent for how you get what you want from students.

Cushing: We know this isn’t fair. I was so angry about this for weeks, all of us were. But we really need to think about house teams. That’s what this amendment is about. It will set a precedent, but it already exists and I don’t think this will enforce the precedent. I don’t think it’s worth dividing up house teams. We saw Dorml Formal happen and all of the house worked so hard on it. It’s a Vassar tradition to have these house teams put on things for this whole campus. And splitting it is going to affect freshmen too and what house teams are doing for you. I want everyone here to think about how it affects house teams and that’s why I want everyone to vote yes.

Strong: I think something we need to not forget in this situation is that this issue was brought up from students who were on house team. Res Life didn’t bring this up.

Student Life: Maybe I’m preaching to the choir, but I think it’s important that we as a student government remember that if we’re not doing things that are helping the students, we’re not doing anything. While I understand the points that have been made about precedents and relationships with administrative bodies, at the end of the day we have to help the students on this campus.

Joss: Motion to vote?

In Favor: Jewett, Lathrop, Noyes, TAs, Strong, Finance, Activities, Student Life, 2016, 2015, THs, Ferry, Raymond, Cushing, Davison
Abstentions: 2017
Opposed: Main

-This motion passes-

President: All in the favor of the contract?

-This motion passes-

7:44 p.m.//Changes to VSA constitution

Ops: We added in Cushing and Jewett’s edits. Nothing else has really changed.

Student Life: There was a section regarding Vassar Chronicle’s ability to publish things about the VSA. The EiC submitted a statement that says, “What are you people doing with your time?” I thought it was important to share. He also submitted some comments to 2017.

2017: He was under the assumption that this was the only thing involved in this particular amendment. I explained the process and he withdrew the statement.

Finance: I didn’t realize this before, but the adjustments Ops made to section 3 article 3 section 6 about Finance Committee–the problem with section a is that it removes quorum, but there should be something about quorum¬†because we can’t have two people at our meeting.

Ops: Motion to amend. Amendment 29.9 section c should say “at least seven members.”

2017: Could we just revert to the original language?

President: Well that amendment had to change, because it originally said that it needed a certain amount of VSA council members.

SoCos: Or you could take out council.

Ops: The idea is that the quorum should be seven members.

Casey Hancock (at-large): If there’s something that’s grammatically or factually incorrect, we don’t have to vote on it. It can just be brought to Ops’ attention and they’ll change it.

President: We’ll vote now.

All in favor: All.

-This motion passes-

7:50 p.m.//Open Discussion

Finance: There’s an exciting new change to the VSA dashboard thanks to Casey Hancock. Everyone can thank him for saving people a million hours of work. Before he built the dashboard, everything had to be done through paper. You can now take pictures of receipts for reimbursement and now we can know that you’re not lying. It also means that people will be keeping track of their receipts and it’ll be well organized. We’ve completed the WVKR review and we’re wrapping up The Misc’s review. We’ll have a report and we’ll ask them to come to council. The majority of houses have still not brought me receipts from Halloween.

Cushing: The Cushing House event is December 5.

Ops: Council will be split into two groups: house presidents and everyone else. We’ll each have half hour interviews for the external reviews. As I said last time, the forum is December 3 in the Villard Room. There’ll be pizza.

Casey: I just noticed that at the moment, based on something the VSA is focused on seems like the conversations you’re having are focused on yourselves. In the future, something I wish I could’ve done better myself is focus on students.

Jewett: Thanks to everyone who came to Dormal Formal!

Student Life: Shoutout to everyone on Jewett for Dormal Formal. I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve seen the petition regarding more Metcalf counselors and I’m going to be having meetings about it. I see it, I hear you, I will try to provide updates as they come.

-Meeting adjourned-